- Trip Outline
This wonderful days walk with its spectacular scenery is centred on three of the ELAN valley reservoirs that make for gorgeous watery views of this lesser known ‘Lake District’ in Powys. The dams are Caban-Coch, Garreg-ddu and Penygarreg which were an epic feat of Victorian engineering using some 50,000 men between 1894-1904. Caban Coch reservoir alone holds back some 35000 megalitres of water to supply Birmingham with clean drinking.
The walk is largely on the flat and follows reservoir footpaths, woodland tracks and tarmac roads and starts from the ELAN Valley Visitor Centre car park. GR: SN927646. There is a small car parking charge at the visitors centre.
We set off from the visitors centre and soon reach the huge dam wall of Caban-Coch. We maybe lucky enough to witness the dam wall resembling a natural waterfall as water cascades over 100 feet below whenever the reservoir is full. We climb up a zig zag path to gain a full, up close view of the massive dam wall to reach a tarmac track that runs along its southern shore.
This eventually reaches Garreg ddu reservoir and there are lovely views from here of Nantgwyllt church and the Foel tower from where water begins its long journey by gravity to Birmingham. We then pick up a quieter track along the eastern shore of Garreg-ddu reservoir flanked by the impressive rocky crags of Mynydd Dolfolau.
After almost 2 miles we reach a bridleway which ascends through beautiful pine woods to reach Penygarreg dam with its distinctive central tower. A short stretch on the road takes us to the Penbont House where we can stop for tea and cake in the newly refurbished tearooms as there will be no lunch stop on this walk.
After our stop we pick up another bridleway which skirts the western shore of Garreg ddu reservoir to eventually reach Glannau plantation. Here we must pick up a path that traverses the mossy ravine of Nant Methan before re-entering a conifer woodland called Llanerchi at the southern end of the reservoir.
On reaching the dam bridge we can retrace our steps along the shore of Caban-Coch to return us back to the visitor centre.
There is an optional detour at the pumping station to see the remains of Nant-y-gro dam which was blown up during tests for the dambusters raid in WWII.
This is a circular 9 mile (15km) walk in an area whose claim to fame is the wettest region of Wales with an average 6ft of rain per year so do come prepared
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